Part 4 of the free online course available now on Coursera
PHILADELPHIA—January 3, 2019—The Curtis Institute of Music and Jonathan Biss have launched Part 4 of the popular online course Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, available now on Coursera. Free and available on demand, the new lectures are the latest in a series offering an in-depth look into the Beethoven piano sonatas from a performer’s point of view. Jonathan Biss is an alumnus and a member of the piano faculty at Curtis, where he holds the Neubauer Family Chair in Piano Studies.
Curtis was the first conservatory to offer a massive open online course (MOOC) on Coursera. Since the course launched in 2013, it has reached a global music community of more than 150,000 people in 185 countries.
“Teaching my Coursera class has connected me with literally tens of thousands of music lovers from all over the world and from all walks of life—people I would simply never have had access to otherwise,” says lecturer and pianist Jonathan Biss. “Being able to share the Beethoven sonatas—a lifelong obsession—with such a large group of people, and to feel their enormous enthusiasm for these pieces, has been a huge gift to me.”
What began as a broad overview of all the sonatas and their place in musical history has evolved into a closer look at individual sonatas, examining each movement and its technical and emotional characteristics. In Part 4, Jonathan Biss addresses four piano sonatas: No. 2 in A major, Op. 2, No. 2; No. 7 in D major, Op. 10, No. 3; Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 (“Pastorale”); and No. 31 in A♭ major, Op. 110. With sections titled “Complexity and Rhythmic Trickery,” “Emotional Power without Histrionics,” and “The Profane Amidst the Sacred,” each lecture includes examples on the keyboard and in-depth historical, theoretical, and artistic analysis of the major musical developments represented by each sonata.
No prior musical knowledge is necessary to take this course. The lectures are designed for students of any background who want to learn more about classical music. Just as Curtis educates students for careers in the 21st century, the school also strives to educate modern-day audiences, building a public that is enthusiastic and appreciative of classical music through increased opportunities to learn and listen.
Access the courses at Coursera.org/Curtis:
The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians to engage a local and global community through the highest level of artistry. One of the most selective schools in the United States, Curtis accepts four percent of applicants each year on average. A tuition-free policy ensures that talent and artistic promise are the only considerations for admission. With a small student body of about 175, Curtis ensures that each young musician receives an education of unparalleled quality, distinguished by personalized attention from a celebrated faculty and a “learn by doing” philosophy. Curtis students hone their craft through more than 200 orchestra, opera, and solo and chamber music offerings each year in Philadelphia and around the world.
Jonathan Biss has appeared as a soloist with the world’s foremost orchestras—including the New York Philharmonic; the Philadelphia, Cleveland, Philharmonia, and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras; and the Chicago, Boston, London, and NHK symphony orchestras—and has given recitals in such renowned venues as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Théâtre du Châtelet, and the Berliner Philharmonie.
An enthusiastic chamber musician, Mr. Biss has collaborated with many of today's finest players, including Richard Goode, Mitsuko Uchida, Midori, Mark Padmore, the Elias String Quartet, and Miriam Fried. He is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award, the Andrew Wolf Memorial Chamber Music Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and the 2003 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, among other honors.
Mr. Biss is recording the complete Beethoven piano sonatas for Onyx Classics and previously made four CDs for EMI Classics, as well as one for Wigmore Hall Live. He is also a prolific writer and is the first classical musician to publish two Kindle Singles, A Pianist Under the Influence and Beethoven’s Shadow.
He studied at Indiana University with Evelyne Brancart and at the Curtis Institute of Music with Leon Fleisher. Mr. Biss joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 2011, where he holds the Neubauer Family Chair in Piano Studies.
In 2013 Mr. Biss launched one of two inaugural Curtis-Coursera courses, Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, which had an initial enrollment of over 35,000 students. He continues to add lectures to the course periodically.
Coursera has registered a total of 31 million users since its launch in 2012, and its over 150 partners include international institutions from Switzerland to Mexico to Hong Kong. The hundreds of free courses it offers are from top-tier universities and cover a broad range of disciplines, including medicine, literature, history, and computer science, among others. Coursera is backed by leading venture capital firms such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates, GSV Capital, International Finance Corporation, Laureate Education Inc., and Learn Capital.
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